No matter what they may be saying in Milan, pink is the color to be wearing this season in Centre County.
On Sunday afternoon, many a different shade flooded the floors of Above the Valley in Centre Hall, the site of the fifth annual Little Black Dress Goes Pink fashion show and fundraiser.
The event is one of two main fundraisers held by the Pennsylvania Pink Zone each year and showcased 11 models — all of them survivors of breast cancer — sporting the latest in sartorial chic as provided by the kind fashionistas of Diamonds & Lace, Appalachian Outdoors, Harper’s, Lions Pride and Jezebel’s Boutique.
“This event has been a kick-off of sorts in the past for fundraising, but now that we are focusing on year-round fundraising, this is less of a kick-off and more of a celebration of survivorship in breast cancer awareness month,” Erin Tench, Pink Zone executive director, said.
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And what would a celebration be without hors d’oeuvres?
Christian Klepeiss was one of the waiters maneuvering the crowd in a pink apron and bow tie. He was expertly wielding a tray of asparagus wrapped in ham, which seemed to be popular among the guests.
“I’m in charge of walking around and making sure that people are well fed,” Klepeiss said.
He was a natural.
This was Klepeiss’ second tour of duty on the Little Black Dress Goes Pink circuit. A teacher at St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy, he was recruited last year by his friend and the former executive director of Pennsylvania Pink Zone, Miriam Powell.
Klepeiss had such a good time that coming back was a no-brainer.
“It’s such a great event. It’s a lot of fun and a great day,” Klepeiss said.
The approximately 125 people in attendance seemed to echo that sentiment. They happily milled about the space chatting with friends, eating food and bidding on a long list of auction items, which included gift cards, Penn State merchandise and tickets to television shows in New York City.
It was Justine Reissman’s first time at Little Black Dress Goes Pink. She was sitting on the balcony with a table of friends and was eagerly anticipating the fashion show later that evening.
“That’s something I’m really looking forward to seeing,” Reissman said.
Upstairs, the models were in the process of putting on makeup and preparing for their grand debut.
Marjorie Stromberg Miller was almost ready. This is her fourth time on the Pink Zone fashion circuit and she knows the drill.
Stromberg Miller would be showing off a selection of pieces from Diamonds & Lace and Jezebel’s Boutique before making a brief speech about the benefits of her experiences at the Penn State Cancer Institute — one of the beneficiaries of the Pink Zone’s fundraising.
Other organizations that will be receiving donations include The Kay Yow Cancer Fund, the PA Breast Cancer Coalition, JC Blair Memorial Hospital Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital and Mount Nittany Health.
Sunday was for celebrating, though. Stromberg Miller has been a survivor for five years now. She’s spoken to students and at the Pink Zone’s 10th anniversary. These experiences are always about friends and family.
“It’s fun to celebrate who you are and who your supporters are,” Stromberg Miller said.